Gratitude overcomes shame
November 21, 2012
Picture this: Adam and Eve are in the Garden of Eden after the fateful apple-eating incident. The Lord God is there, looking for them. Adam comes forward in response to the question “Adam, where art thou?” and says humbly, “O Lord God, thank you for all that you have done for Eve and me. Thank you for providing us with such abundance and beauty. Thank you for loving us so much that you have made this heavenly garden for our home.” What?
Okay, we all know that’s not how the story really goes. (see Genesis 2:4 to 3:24)
Instead, we can relate to the scenario of having done something really dumb, or even downright hurtful, and then suffering the consequences which often feel as though we’ve been booted out of safety and happiness – maybe even permanently. That story is a pretty good depiction of the vagaries of human existence. It captures well the ultimate downward trend of mortal life. But it is an allegory. It is a teaching tool. It is designed to show us that starting from dust and clay condemns us to return to dust and clay.
What if, instead, we see ourselves through the scientific version of creation made plain in the first chapter of Genesis? Even after we’ve made a horrible or willful mistake, it’s not too late to gain a better sense of our own and others’ Godlike nature as presented there. This is where God makes His children in His image and likeness, not from clay or rib.
Gratitude is a wonderful pathway to that redemptive understanding. Being thankful for good already present, and even in advance of it (as Jesus exemplified) is a holy about-face that helps us to see a new view of ourselves. That’s because in order to truly be grateful for what we have, we must know what we have. This requires us to look closely, and then to look again, and then to look even more deeply for and at all the blessings and potential blessings. Doing so changes us. Wretchedness gives place to grace, shame to meekness, and fear to affection.
The Bible records that King David understood the healing power of gratitude. He writes: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (see Psalm 103:2-5)
We can’t rewrite the biblical story of Adam and Eve, but we can rewrite our own “kicked out of Eden” stories. Let your heart be filled with gratitude – real and persistent – and watch your own life be reformed as well.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.